Community supports Avenal boxer's "Fight for Water"

Close to 3,000 people packed the Golden Eagle Arena on the West Hills College in Lemoore to see the Olympic boxer Jose Ramirez take the ring.
November 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Close to 3,000 people packed the Golden Eagle Arena on the West Hills College in Lemoore to see the Olympic boxer Jose Ramirez take the ring.

The Avenal native made it a short fight, knocking out his opponent, Erik Hernandez, in 47 seconds.

The Saturday night fight wasn't just a homecoming fight for a Ramirez. The fight also carried a message. It was called the "Fight for Water," as an effort to bring awareness to the water issues facing farmers in the western and eastern parts of the Central Valley.

Mario Santoyo, President of the Latino Water Coalition, says the lack of water is costing the Valley jobs.

"We've had big unemployment numbers, people without jobs," Santoyo said. "That was in 2009, in 2014, we expect an even worse year."

There were close to 800 members of the coalition at the arena. They were wearing blue shirts with their "Fight for Water" message.

"You've all of heard about the Red Wave from Fresno State," Santoyo said, "This is the blue wave."

The blue wave consisted of consisted of farmers, farm workers and advocates that want to bring more water to the valley. Santoyo says Ramirez recently joined their organization and cause.

"He had an opportunity in his contract to do a fight in the valley so we said, 'let's use that opportunity and it 'the fight for water.'" Santoyo said.

Manuel Cunha, President of the Nisei Farmers League, says they have joined the coalition in their effort. They want to see a water bond measure put on the 2014 ballot, one that would kick off several water related projects around the state.

"It's a job issue," Cunha said. "It's about having jobs in your community, rather than having your community blow away because there's no water."

State Senator Andy Vidak was at the event wearing a blue shirt to support the Coalition in getting more water to the Valley. He says the water measure needs to include establishing a water storage system, one that he is working to ensure.

"Part of my job is to make relationships with other people in the other parts of the state that maybe don't realize our plight," Vidak said. "This is about water awareness. We need water in the valley. We need jobs."


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